Learned And Eventually Forgotten

Many amazing things were accomplished in the days before computers became ubiquitous and the world wide web became a distraction as well as a tool.

Nazi Germany built the first jet fighter in the world, and was in the process of building a plane that bears a remarkable resemblance to the modern B2 bomber (although I think the stealth aspects of the “Hilter’s Stealth-Fighter” were an accidental byproduct and not the result of considered design). There was no computer modeling available to examine the airflow around the plane, which had no vertical control or stabilization surfaces, yet the plane flew.

The computer in the Apollo 11 capsule Columbia used to navigate to the moon for the first lunar landing, which occurred 50 years ago this July 16, wasn’t as powerful as the engine control unit in your car that moderates the electronic fuel injection and variable valve timing. Yet they made it to the moon, while we use sophisticated GPS systems to travel much shorter distances.

What prompted my thoughts on these amazing accomplishments is the discovery of a web site called The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies, which has photos of many of the drawing instruments undoubtedly used to make the precision plans needed to build the plane or the space capsule. The comments below many of the images are very entertaining, and emphasize how much things have changed.

A lifetime ago, in high school, I took a mechanical drawing course, and again when I was in college. I still have my old drawing instruments.

Now, those skills I developed and techniques I learned are almost useless. Wow, things have changed…

I need to dig up my old slide rules and take some pictures of them, maybe along with some of my film SLR cameras.

Cross-posted between Random Fate and The Moderate Voice.

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